Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You can't spell friend without fried...

Sunday Brunch, it’s gotta be my favorite meal of the week.  You’re feeling sorry for yourself because you have to go to work tomorrow, or maybe you drank too much playing life sized jenga the night before, and you just want something fatty and delish.  Usually I opt for the savory breakfast because let’s be real, who the hell doesn’t love a fried egg sandwich.  (If you don’t love a fried egg sandwich consider yourself disowned.)  Do you know that Fried and Friend are almost the same word?  You can’t spell friend without fried.  Just sayin’…   Someone should make a shirt out of that, fried Chicken is my friend...

Anywho, this breakfast wasn’t fried, and I’m really sorr I just got you all in the mood for fried breakfast. Next Sunday, I swear.  (Oh, you’ve heard that before and I have forgotten all about my empty promises, you’ll believe it when you see it, blah blah) Well shut it, I remember my promises I just don’t bring them up because it makes me look bad.  I do remember I promised you Cinnamon Oat Pancakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream, now didn’t I?  Oh too little too late, Whit. I doubt it kids.  Take one bite, I dare you not to love this business. And that is what it is, absolute business.  We are not messing around here people, these are some serious cakes.

These are dense, hearty, warm you up from the belly pancakes.  Eat these in sweatpants, you’re not going to want to feel restricted.

Cinnamon Oat Pancakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for skillet
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and 1 cup oats and pulse a few times to coarsely grind oats. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and oil. Add dry ingredients and 1 cup oats and whisk just until moistened.

Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Lightly oil skillet. ( I use spray oil, feel free to use your judgment here, but I don’t particularly like mine greasy) Using 2 to 3 tablespoons for each pancake, drop batter in skillet and cook until a few bubbles have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook until browned on undersides, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with more oil and batter.

       Sit back and enjoy your brunch coma!


Monday, August 30, 2010

A heart so full it hurts.

It was such a bittersweet weekend over at La Bouche. I consider this blog to be a reflection of my family of friends, and without them, there would be no one to cook for, and surely no one to make fun of either. As secret agent Sarah and I sat in the kitchen, cooking together for the last time in our green apartment, baking our last cake together, my heart felt completely swollen and raw.

I’m not great at goodbyes. I cry uncontrollably, and I usually make a really ugly face that can be confused with terror. It looks like someone took the ice cream sandwich out of a kids’ hand. That’s really the only way to describe it. Anyway, sitting there with Sarah, on the other side of that kitchen island for the last time, it took everything I had not to put her in a pressure canner and save the memory.

Sitting there waiting for the cake to come out of the oven, I thought about the family dinners that were to come, without Sarah. The conversations that will lead to inside jokes, without Sarah. The glasses of wine that turn into bottles, without Sarah. The hugs at the end of the night, missing one, Sarah. My heart is so full that it hurts. So what does a girl do when her heart breaks, literally aches for her friend who feels more like a sister than a friend at all?

She bakes. She bakes her other best friend a ‘be my Maid (ahem matron) of Honor’ cake. A “you have stood beside me through the test of time, bull, and tears so now stand beside me while I sweat and cry and marry this man” cake. Sarah sat with me, until it was done. Making sure the icing tasted right, and making sure we drained the bottle properly. Making sure I felt like I had adequate time to let go, like a good friend does.

And so when Kelley saw the cake, she cried. I cried. When Sarah left for the last time on Friday night, she cried. I cried. And tonight I will go home, look at that half eaten cake, think of how it was made, who it was made with and for, and I will cry. I didn’t even try a bite. I have no idea what it tastes like. I just know that it’s waiting there for me, like a good friend always is.

I used Cakeman Raven’s recipe. I am not sure that I am mad for it. I do know the icing is good, because it always is. I don’t really care what it tastes like, it was made with absolute love.

Red Velvet Cake
Vegetable oil for the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Crushed pecans, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.
1 pound cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake

She said yes, by the way.

Here is hoping you have friends like mine, they are truly, the greatest kind.



Friday, August 27, 2010

Game Bird Outlaw

Let’s talk about game bird.  Obviously you know my protein choices are limited since I rarely eat beef and I never ever eat pig.  Sometimes, you just want something that tastes a little different you know?  Sometimes, you just want to think you’re eating something exotic.  Ok fine, quail isn’t exactly exotic, but if you’re in my family, it’s good and frequent eating. 
Not to get too much into family background, but I have a dad who is outlawed from hunting dove in the entire greater AMERICAS (this includes South America- I think EXCEPT Peru… don’t ask me why) because of illegal baiting… (we are from Kentucky, what do you want?  A man’s gotta catch his birds somehow) and therefore in the last 6 years, dove has been only on the menu about once a year. I don’t know how it seems to pop up on the menu, but with a man that’s outlawed in the entire greater Americas, you just don’t ask questions.  It’s like the hunting mafia or some shit.  Anywho, Quail, he can shoot that shit 10 times to Sunday, and I am pretty sure he does. 
Now it’s an adventure, eating quail at my house.  There are a few reasons. 
1)      These birds are wild, and they taste it kids.  This is not from a quail farmer, it’s from God’s green pastures. 
2)      When eating this bird, keep in mind it’s been shot, so the chances of you biting down on a buck shot are pretty good.  (We try and make it like a game.  “Oh, you just broke your tooth on a bullet? You win!!!!! Here’s a Benjamin, go to the dentist. )
3)      Random feathers may or may not appear flying around the kitchen during prep. I’m sorr. I can’t help it.
4)      I am really giving you a hard time, yes buck shot are a threat, but I don’t live in a barn people, I am actually quite civilized. Sort of.
So, I would say quarterly, in the cozy kitchen of our green apartment, I decide its quail time.  Ooo boy does Brian get excited when it’s quail time.  And you don’t just make a small batch of quail, you make a whole mess of quail, so it’s usually a family dinner feast.   Now, 9 times out of 10, I fry that mess.  I love fried quail like I love Martha Stewart.  It tastes like wild fried chicken and I can’t get enough of it.  But, last time, I was feeling especially classy (I know right, who am I?) and I decided to pan sear this wild bird and braise it in a white wine sauce to show it in its complete glory.  It truly was glory.  I may have a new favorite way to eat quail, and that, my friends, is a ballsy statement. 
Pan Seared Quail, Braised in White Wine
8 quail (breasts and legs)
1 Vidalia onion, diced
½ stick of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups of arugula
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper

Rinse the quail in luke warm water and pat dry.  Generously Salt and Pepper. Heat the olive oil in the pan on medium high heat.  Sear the quail on all sides, cooking for 3 minutes each side.  Remove from the pan and place in a dish.  Add the garlic and onions to the pan.  Sautee for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the wine to the pan and deglaze. (Scrape up the cooked brown bits from the bottom of the pan) Let it cook down for 5 minutes.  Reintroduce the quail and its juices back into the pan, cooking for 10 minutes more.   Add the arugula in the pan 1 minute before serving, just to cook down a bit but retain its bite and peppery taste.  The end. 

Amazing.  It is that easy, and it is amazing. Happy Friday guys, I can promise you some surprises on the horizon next week.  Two very special ones, indeed.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Like a Pig in Shit.

You haven’t lived until you’ve had this mac and cheese. No, I know your aunt Jo Alice makes a bitchin’ mac and cheese. Yes, I heard your grandmother won a state championship for her mac and cheese, but sister, you are wrong. Wanna know how I know? Martha told me so. I listen to that woman. I learned my lesson back when I tried to cheat on her with Mario Batali. Big Mistake. Huge. Well, it’s been all about the warm hugs from food here this week, what with the pumpkin ice cream and the carrot cake, why the hell not throw in a fatal mac and cheese? I know, you’ve gained 10 pounds just reading this blog, but I never promised you tips to trim your waistline, now did I?

Guys, I’ve been thinking. It just struck me. I know, it just sounds crazy. It sounds like I’ve had one too many glasses of pinot, it sounds like I’ve gone all Do-It-Yourself over here. But honestly, what I wouldn’t GIVE to be able to cater my own wedding! I would just revel in that. I would roll like a pig in shit at the opportunity. Alas, a bride who rolls like a pig in shit, is sure to lose her husband. (Can you see it? I am at my wedding with a side pony, tomato sauce on my face and a stained wedding dress. I totally can see it.) It’s been done before. Forkable did it. Why can’t I? Oh I don’t know, because you’re a crazy person with a full time job, part time blog, 2 cats, and fifi who thinks your two shakes from certifiable. Maybe that’s why you can’t do it, Whitney, you crazy fixer upper, why buy it when you can build it, make it from scratch cat lady! Say it with me kids, CUH-RASY.

Holy Tangent. I’m sorr. Back to the breadwinner (literally, HAH!) So Martha calls for Gruyere and I say pish posh on that. Why even fight with the Cheddar, give him the ring! He has clearly proven to be the superior cheese and I bow to you, Sir Cheddar, Knight of my belly. Sorr Marth, I know you love some stinky cheese too, but when I’m eating mac and cheese, I need to be able to eat half the pan. If there is gruyere in there I can’t do that. Watch the magic happen below. As promised

Macaroni and Cheese, Modified from Martha Stewarts ‘The New Classics’

Coarse salt
8 ounces dried elbow macaroni
6 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dishes
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 ounces Italian fontina cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
8 ounces extra-sharp white-cheddar cheese, grated (3 cups), 1/3 cup reserved for topping
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1 cup), 1/2 cup reserved for topping
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Cherry tomatoes
Thyme Sprigs

Heat oven and boil pasta: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add salt generously and cook pasta 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's instructions (the outside should be cooked but the inside underdone. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
Meanwhile, make bread crumbs: Tear bread into large pieces and pulse a few times in a food processor to form very large crumbs. Transfer to a bowl, and add melted butter. Toss evenly to coat.
Prepare baking dishes: Butter eight 6-ounce shallow baking dishes or one 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
Make cheese sauce: Melt butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until bubbling but not browning, about 45 seconds. Add milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon (scrape across the bottom and around edge of pot to prevent scorching), until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add fontina, 1 2/3 cups grated cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigianno-Reggiano, stirring until completely melted and sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add cayenne and nutmeg, and stir to combine.

Assemble and add cheese topping: Add pasta to sauce and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour into prepared baking dishes and sprinkle evenly with the reserved cheeses, followed by the bread crumbs. If using, top with cherry tomatoes and thyme.

Place dishes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until bubbling and cheese is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Roll around like a pig in shit while you eat mac and cheese.

Do you have a belly ache yet? I do. and I want more of it.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Always lead off with "The Cats are fine.."

Suzy. Is. Pissed.  About my forgetting to add her picture to the previous post. So pissed that straight WRECKED our kitchen last night.  You are thinking “Oh Dear, Whit has lost her shit…how does a kitchenaid mixer wreck someone’s kitchen. It is an inadament object and you are losing. Your. Mind. Sister.”  Whelp you’re all wrong because who the hell else flooded our kitchen? Oh, that was me? Shit…
So we had some dishes that needed soaking, if you know what I mean.  They were not dishwasher ready, had some business that wasn’t coming off so I filled the sink with soapy water and let those bad boys soak while we were at work. (STOP the judgment people! Just stop it right now! You’re telling me you never felt too tired to scrub?) What about the cats, you are terrible leaving your sink filled with soapy toxins for your cats to get into. (Shut it. I put our very nice, very large cutting board over the sink, ok? There is no way they can move it because they don’t have opposable thumbs.  You just show me a cat whose paw is strong enough to move an entire cutting board. SHOW ME!)  So our sink has a drip issue, (For the love of God, NO do NOT tell our landlord.  He will come in and we will be without a sink for 10 days at the speed he works) and I guesssssss the sink filled up and the cutting board soaked through and the water went all over the floor and Dad came home to a big fat mess.  I would just like to thank our Lord Baby Jesus who conveniently and serendipitously had me make dinner plans with my girlfriends so that I did not have to handle that mess.  Thanks Baby J! I also would like to take a hot second to tell you that if there is minor trouble in the water, you do NOT want DAD to call for help.  It would take him 25 minutes to tell you what was wrong.  I thought the cats were dead.  I thought the apartment caught fire.  I thought we had been robbed with the way he was telling me this story last night.  It went a little something like this:
“Hey Dad!”  “Heeeey………”
“What’s the matter?” 10 second pause “Well I got home………to the apartment…………and I walked into the kitchen…………and the sink…………………overflowed onto the floor”
“Christ on a Cracker! Can you just lead off with THE CATS ARE FINE BUT?!?!?!?”
It’s like that one time when he LOST Chloe, yes he LOST Chloe and it took him 30 minutes to get to the “but I found her she’s cool” What the flip!!!  How, in a 700 square foot apartment do you lose a 20 pound cat?  Well he did, she rode the elevator to another floor. (I also want to know, who in the world gets in an elevator and doesn’t think,  “Huh, wonder why there’s a cat in here?”)  She was found by a person with cats, they took her in, gave her food water and her own litter, and she proceeded to harass their cat so they had to be separated.  A mere 5 hours later, Dad starts to wonder where Chloe is…. He realizes she’s gone, calls the doorman to see if he’s “Seen or heard of a wandering cat” Amazing.  It literally took him 25 minutes to tell me that he FOUND THE CAT.  ALWAYS LEAD OFF WITH THE CATS ARE FINE!
Now you are going to suggest that I be locked in a padded room far away from any cats because I obviously am in danger of becoming an animal hoarder and placed on Animal Planet or Dateline NBC as the woman who was too obsessed with her pets.  But I felt it important to tell you, so that if Dad calls you on the phone and something is wrong, it is safe to assume the cats are fine.  See, I just did you a solid.
But enough about cats, this here’s a food blog and I guess I better tell you about food.   It feels like fall outside and I am NOT UPSET ABOUT IT PEOPLE!  I flove fall. I flove anything with a sweater and I flove fall food and I especially flove pumpkin.  Now that it’s the first morning in the 60’s we’ve had, pumpkin’s on the mind.  I can’t stop thinking about the pumpkin ice cream I made last fall, and I think this weekend it’s gonna have to happen!  Here is the recipe I used last year, I’ll let you know if I mix it up, which I am most certain that I will!
Pumpkin Ice Cream

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned
  unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 egg yolks
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄4 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbs. bourbon (I like maker’s mark)

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.


And here is that glamour shot of Suzy, the hussie who flooded our kitchen.  Hope it was worth it, Sue. You’re grounded. 

And the cats, Oh, they’re fine.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Date Rape Carrot Cake, so good you’ll think someone slipped you a mickey….

Too far? Oh, my B. I know you chuckled, or scoffed a little at least and hey, that is what this here blog is for now ya’ll. But seriously, ask resident rabbit brian, he’ll tell you this cake is buck.

Told ya. I went on a search trying to found out what Very Vera’s secret is to her famed carrot cakes and all I can gather is crushed pineapple. That is no secret, every good grandmother puts crushed pineapple in her carrot cake. It’s gotta be her spice mix because that didn’t seem secret enough for me. Therefore I set out on my own to make a carrot cake that would rival Paula Dean’s love for butter. (ballsy, i know.)

Woowee sister did I do it! I FLOVE carrot cake. There, I said it, we can add it to the list of things that are terrible for you that I love. You just trust me, you are going to love it too.

Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda shopping list
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups shredded carrots
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pecans
1 cup flaked coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch spring form pans.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots, coconut and pineapple. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

For Cream Cheese Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.

Die of happiness or cardiac arrest. You’re choice.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rita. Strikes. Again.

Kids, I was wrong. Rita Bohanon strikes again.  I want you to know that although last week’s chicken salad was amazing, I have heard through the grapevine that it is NOTHING like what Rita does.  WHAT. THE. FLIP.  Here I am making my own damn mayonnaise and you mean to tell me that it isn’t anything like what she makes?!? 
I got emails from my girlfriends telling me I was wrong on 2 accounts,
1)      She doesn’t use pecans, she uses toasted almonds. I can get down with that. (Stop it, stop judging me! You want to know how I didn’t know they were almonds and what kind of palette I have and blah blah!? It has been 10 years, and the fact that I remember there are nuts in it is a miracle at all!)
2)      She uses sour cream.  HOLY KENTUCKY.   I am mystified and excited all at the same time.  Sour cream and mayo.  I have no idea of the ratio, but you bet your bottom dollar I’ll figure it out! Sour freakin’ cream. You KNOW how I feel about cream. 
Sigh.  I knew Rita was after my heart.  Whelp, I need to tell you how we finished off our bird.  To recap, we roasted bird in the oven as mentioned here.  Then we took the remaining meat and made chicken salad here.  Now we are taking the innards and the bones of that bird and we are making STOCK!  200 bonus points goes to the smarty pants that figured that one out!  (Seriously, if you thought I was going to do something else with the bones, please fill me in.  I’m either grossed out, or extremely interested in what you came up with…but most like grossed out.)  You can use this stock in just about anything that calls for it, soups, pasta sauce, cook your rice in it for extra flavor, etc. etc. etc.  If you can use water for a recipe,  you can use stock and expect twice the taste!  Warning: This will make your house smell like a wonderful roast chicken is crisping away in your oven.  Do not do this over an empty stomach.   You’ve been warned. You may proceed.
Chicken Stock
1 roast chicken carcass, picked clean of meat
any accompanying chicken giblets, except the liver
1 chicken wing or the neck
1 large onion
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
3-4 whole peppercorns
1 small parsnip, peeled (optional)
half a leek (optional)
sprig of thyme or parsley (optional)

Break the chicken into smallish pieces and place in a snug, small pot with the remaining ingredients, all chopped into small chunks.  It should pack tightly so that no more than 6 cups of water are needed to cover everything.  It's best if the stock doesn't need to reduce once finished, so avoid using extra water.
Bring the water to a simmer over low heat so that it's bubbling very gently and only sporadically.  Skim any foam that comes to the surface, but leave any fat, as it's flavorful.  Add a little salt to the broth, but not much, to help bring out the flavor. Simmer for at least 2 hours, preferably 4-5, or as late as you can stay up.  

Strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth, allow to cool (or lower the pot into a sink of ice-cold water), then refrigerate for a day, which allows the flavors to develop.  Use within a week, or freeze for future use.

And yes. I know. You’re all sassy with me over this carrot cake. Tomorrow. Okay kids? Mommy will take to get carrot cake tomorrow. Now sit down in the back seat before I pull this car over!! (I will knock you clear into next week, talking back to your mom like that!)
JK - mommy loves you. She didn’t mean it.


Friday, August 20, 2010

What Would Rita Bohanon Do?

When I'm in the kitchen thinking about chicken salad, my first step is to ask myself, "Self, What would Rita Bohanon Do?"  Who the flip is Rita Bohanon, you ask?  BLASPHEMY! Who is Rita Bohanon?! Only the greatest and best chicken salad maker to walk God's green pastures, that's who!  I'll forgive you if you are new here, but if not, it is high time you learn to respect the name Rita Bohanon.  This woman knows her way around a chicken salad. (Well frankly she knows her way around most things in the kitchen, but she is held on a pedestal by every person in Campbellsville Kentucky for her kick ass chicken salad)  If Jesus were having his last supper in 1992, he would have said, I want Rita's chicken salad.  (if Jesus were me, that is...)

Anyway.  The second statement following "What would Rita Bohanon Do?" is usually "Damn you, Rita Bohanon!"  because my chicken salad is NEVER as good as hers. I have spent years trying to dissect what she puts in there, and guys, I don't know.  I wish I could tell you.  Actually I probably wouldn't because it's the best kept secret in America, but I would consider telling you...for 45 seconds...and then i would lock that recipe in a vault.

So here I am today, with the left over roast bird, standing in my kitchen, barefoot and engaged (I know, I almost had you...) trying to figure out what the eff she does differently.  My first thought is, she probably doesn't use leftover bird.  She probably uses the best white breast she can get her hands on.  And I BET she either poaches it or roasts it in the oven with the skin on and then takes it off, all moist and happy like.  What did I do? Grab the carcasses out of the fridge and go to town.  So we will say

Difference #1 : For Rita, Chicken Salad is NOT an afterthought. It is NOT a leftovers meal.

But, hey, I had left over bird and stop judging me for making chicken salad an afterthought. Also, Rita is a big proponent of using grapes in her chicken salad, and by golly SO AM I!  That juicy sweet bite of grape paired with that savory chicken and that tangy sauce. OOOWEE!  (that is me squealing like a pig)  So

Difference #2: Fruit is equally as important as the bird.

And I honor this one, every time baby. Rita also slams it in the texture department and knows that you need some snap crackle and pop in your chicken salad as well.  Snap of the celery, crackle of the pecans, and a pop of that juicy grape.  Girl knows what she is doing.  This shit is science, and she's playing the role of Bill Nye. I also, would never ignore the chemistry of chicken salad. Therefore

Difference #3: Chicken Salad is Chemistry.

And Finally, your are left with the sauce.  Some people just use mayo (bless their hearts) and some use dijon, some use a combination and some like a vinegar based chicken salad.  This guys, is where Rita has got me.  I don't freakin' know what she uses!  I change mine every time hoping I'll eat it and Rita will appear out of a cloud like Endora and slap me with a stick and turn me into a chicken salad god.  That hasn't happened yet, and it didn't happen today, but I gotta tell you, today's chicken salad, is. good.

Not Rita's Chicken Salad
2 cups shredded or chopped chicken.  ( I am using a mix today, but I recommend all white meat)
3 ribs of celery, diced
2 cups halved grapes
1 diced apple
1 cup crushed pecans
Salt & Pepper

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 table spoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil (your choice on the type, most people don't like olive oil in this but I do.  you can use a milder flavored oil like safflower or corn)

In a food processor, process the egg yolk and the dry ingredients.  After well incorporated, add the orange juice and the vinegar.  Process continuously while adding the oil through the top feeder, a drizzle at a time until you see the liquid start to emulsify.  ( Starts to froth slightly and thicken, just important for the mixture not to separate.  Then continue add the rest of the oil in a stream, with the processor still running.  Add oil until you reach your desired thickness.  I like mine on the soft/loose side. 

Pour the dressing/mayo in your large bowl, and then add the chopped chicken, grapes, apples, celery and pecans. Toss in the dressing until well coated, season with salt and pepper. 

Serve this on a croissant and you are in business!  Here is hoping you don't have vultures trying to steal your chicken like I do...

Rita, if you see this, you are a legend in my book, sister!  Stay tuned for the final step to using every piece of the chicken (can you guess what we're doing with the carcasses?)  and I do believe I have promised you a bang out carrot cake.... 


Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Be Roastin'

Kids, some people tell me I can bake.  Whatever, sure... I can build a cake, but my true talent is that I roast the hell out of any bird that crosses my path.  Cornish Hens, Chicken, Quail, 20 pound Turkeys, Duck you name it. If it’s got 2 wings and drums – I’m roastin’ that son.  I would go so far as to say that can credit my new engagement to my bird cooking abilities.  Have you ever been to a Thanksgiving for Friends of mine?  If so, you know firsthand that roasting a 20 pound bird to absolute tender and juicy perfection will win the heart of any man.  If you haven’t attended Thanksgiving for friends, send me your address for the love of God.

Regardless, I want you to know that it’s easy - like the easiest thing ever to do.  You can do this just as well as I can!  Last night we were celebrating (err mourning?) the last frat dinner with Max and Todd together.  Todd’s Chicago project is ending and he is permanently heading back to the west coast, and you know I roasted some birds.  While it’s sad that Todd is leaving, we should all look on the bright side.  There is still plenty of wine in the pantry…sooo…we’re all good! And Max is still here!  (I kid!) (a little..) (No really I’m joking!....)

Back to forseriousness – bird + butter + herbs +garlic + oven + citrus = happiness.  And you barely had to do anything but feel it up a little bit and stuff it.  (I am sorry, I couldn’t resist.  I figured it was better than a “Cavity” joke…)

Now watch how quickly this comes together:

Roast Chicken

1  (3-5 pound) roasting chicken
1 ½ teaspoons  finely chopped fresh thyme
2  teaspoons  fresh orange juice
¼  teaspoon  salt
¼  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2  garlic cloves, minced
1  orange, halved
6  garlic cloves, peeled
2  thyme sprigs for the inside of the cavity

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let chicken stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Make sure you take the innards out of the cavity, and rinse the bird (in and out) well, and pat dry with paper towels.) Rub chicken all over with chopped garlic, thyme, orange juice, salt pepper. Lift the skin of the chicken and push palates of butter all over the breast of the bird under the skin. Season cavity with salt and pepper; stuff with garlic halves, orange and thyme. Brush chicken with butter; generously season with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet. Cross legs, and tie with kitchen twine. 
Roast chicken, basting after 30 minutes, until skin is crisp and golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reaches 165, about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

BOOM. That was it!  You just roasted the hell out of a bird and barely did a thing!  Now I prefer a carb dinner and you know that bird is not cutting my carb quotient of the day… so cue the Asiago polenta!  I am not a fan of quick cooking anything, it sounds like cheating so I use stone ground corn grits polenta.
Asiago Polenta
½ cup milk
1 stick butter
2  cup  water
1 box vegetable stock (4 cups)
1  teaspoon  salt
½   teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2 cups stone ground corn grits polenta
2 cups grated Asiago cheese

In a covered pot, bring water, stock and salt to a boil.
When the liquid boils, gradually pour in the cornmeal while stirring vigorously with a wire whisk. Reduce the heat until the thickening cornmeal simmers gently. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is thick and tastes done. It should have a tiny bite too it, but feel smooth to the tongue and it should be begging for cheese.  Add the milk and butter and stir until combined, remove from heat, and stir in the cheese.  Generously season with salt and pepper.
 I serve mine soft, you can let it firm up into molds if you really want too, but I dare you to resist the silky smooth asiago polenta. I dare you!
Stay tuned to see what I do with the leftover chicken, and I think there is carrot cake in your future.  Can you smell the nutmeg?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hey Ya’ll!  I am still running on all cylinders, as you all probably can imagine with the exciting week we have going on here.  I am especially excited for today, as we have a glorious FIRST TIME EVER guest poster!  This girl is ON it in the blog scene, and ON it in life.  If you’re there with a joke, she is ready to deliver your punch line.  If you’re needin’ the red sauce (and no, I don’t mean zippy) she is your gal! If you happen to find yourself with a can and no opener, well, you’ll see how she does that later on…

I present to you, the lady, the myth, the legend: Special Agent Sarah Hammel.

Hi! I am Sarah, Whit's secret agent.

So secret that I didn't even know about the foodbuzz publisher blog amazingness Welp, I dropped the ball.  But I did know about Dad popping the question this weekend - and managed NOT to ruin the surprise.   Anyways, since Whit is so busy with being engaged this week, I thought I would help out with a guest post about are latest family dinner. (And let's be honest, who doesn't appreciate a break from my foul humor...)

We decided to give the bride-to-be (BLAHAAAAAHAHA) a break from hosting Sunday dinner, so Jen hosted

 (so we could still watch True Blood and Mad Men ) and I cooked... confession: with some help from Jen and Whit...(that bitch won’t leave the stove!)

Because there has been SO much summer squash this year at Green City Market, I had my eye on a new recipe from a bay area blog I follow, Eat Live Run. Now, a girl can only make so many sauteed veggie recipes and zucchini muffins before she needs a change... and I am not talking about giving up zucchini, I am talking about a different way to eat it (Welp, sorr about that little guy). 

Without further ado, here is an amazing zucchini pizza that will force you going back for seconds! (or fifths…. No one is judging here)
Zucchini Pizza (taken from Jenna at Eat, Live, Run)
Makes one pizza (square, “rustic” or pie shaped)

2 large zucchinis (I used 4 smaller ones)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Don't be shy here, the garlic taste was epic)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
sea salt
red pepper flakes
pizza dough: either regular or whole wheat.  (Can't beat the $0.99 Whole Wheat ready-to-bake pizza dough at Trader Joes)  (GASP ITS NOT HOMEMADE, shut up we were busy ok?)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Either dust cornmeal on a baking sheet (or pizza stone–even better!) or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Grate the zucchinis and press with paper towels to soak up the liquid. Mix the zucchini with the mozzarella cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and garlic. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Work the pizza dough into whatever shape your heart desires. Spread the ricotta cheese on top and then top with the zucchini mixture. Add some pepper flakes if you like spice in your life. Reduce oven temperature to 450 and bake pizza for about 12 minutes, or until the crust begins to turn golden and the cheese has started to bubble.

Cool, slice and stuff your face.

Now, this entry is not about how we had pasta on the side, with Whit's zippy sauce.. However, we did run into a problem making the sauce.  Jen just moved into her new digs, and realized, umm we don't have a can opener.  Never fear! Knife, Can, Open (and Dad) to the rescue!  It worked! (Seriously, unless you are a fool, don't do this... I would hate for you to email me saying you lost a finger and  are suing me for all 25 cents I have, all because I said this was a good idea...)

Thanks for letting me take over for Ms. Bouche today! Enjoy her sassy posts and amazing meals.

Whit & Sarah